6:00am Saturday 28th December 2013
The New Year is just around the corner, and with it comes a raft of great new music. Andy Welch rounds up some of the new - as well as the old - faces to watch out for, plus a few predictions for the coming 12 months.
Time waits for no man - least of all in music, a world so blindly fixated on planning six months ahead and trying to spot the 'next big thing' that it doesn't realise a new Beyonce album is going to be released until it's available on iTunes...
Speaking of which, that might be one thing to expect more of in 2014. Surprise albums are, well, no surprise, really. The likes of Jay Z, Justin Timberlake and, of course, David Bowie, launched albums with little or no notice this year, so expect the unexpected next year.
Who knows, in a few years' time, when every album is suddenly released, hoping to catch customers and social media off guard, we might pine for the days of a long build-up and intense media hype.
Just as 2013 saw its fair share of big names making returns - Bowie, the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park, Paul McCartney with a new album, etc - there will be no shortage of familiar faces in the coming 12 months, either. Following on from the news that they're finally allowing their music on streaming service Spotify, a remastered Led Zeppelin catalogue will be available in 2014.
That leaves just AC/DC and The Beatles as the only musical giants not available on Spotify and, with the Swedish firm still insisting its business model is the future of music consumption, you can bet they'll be doing their level best to tempt those two acts into joining the party. (For 'level best' read 'waving loads and loads of money at'.)
If you're of the gambling persuasion, it might be worth sticking a fiver on ABBA reuniting to release some new music in 2014. The stumbling block in their reformation always appeared to be Agnetha, but following on from comments she made about marking the 40th anniversary of Waterloo's release, plus her recent solo album ending a self-imposed retreat from the spotlight, the smart money suggests the Swedish pop pioneers might get back together for their slice of the nostalgia pie.
Adele should be back with a new album, although being a relatively new mum, coupled with the fact that 21 is still selling in vast quantities, who could blame her for taking a bit more time off?
Kylie will be back with her first album since joining Jay Z's Roc Nation. With that, expect the biggest collaborations and the very best songwriters to be brought in to help, and banish from memory the recent, contract-fulfilling album she made of orchestral versions of her most famous songs. 2014's Kylie album will sound nothing like that.
U2 will be releasing their 13th studio album in April. After the misfiring of their previous album No Line On The Horizon, Bono and co will be hoping it's not an unlucky omen, although considering the U2 360 tour that accompanied the record became the highest grossing in history, taking almost half a billion pounds, perhaps they won't be too bothered. Say what you like about U2 - and most people do - they know how to put on a show.
Take That are no strangers to a lavish stadium spectacle, although we'll have to wait until 2015 to see how the foursome (or fivesome, depending on whether Robbie wants to join in again) are going to attempt to top standing on the hands of a 60ft-tall robot, as they did on their last tour. Nevertheless, the world's favourite manband are reconvening at the beginning of January to plan their next assault and will have an album out before the end of the year.
Now to something that won't be happening in 2014 - an Oasis reunion. The rift between the brothers is as wide as the day in 2009 when they fell out. Indeed, Noel Gallagher was recently offered £20million to reform Oasis and tour the world. He turned down the cash.
Their former Britpop rivals Blur are having a more harmonious time, however. Now frontman Damon Albarn has collaborated with every other musician, he's finally got around to recording a solo album. He recently teased it with a 21-second YouTube clip, and though the full album is yet to have an official release date, it will be out in 2014. Albarn has also confirmed a new Blur album, and another from Gorillaz.
Kanye West has started work on a follow-up to Yeezus, Elbow have finished their sixth album, and Lily Allen should have a new album out by summer too.
They might not be household names, but new albums by Los Angeles four-piece Warpaint, Broken Bells - that's a duo of The Shins' James Mercer and 'Danger Mouse' Brian Burton - and former Doves frontman Jimi Goodwin, are all to be released in the first couple of months of 2014, and are all brilliant.
Enough with the old faces. Let's turn our attention to newcomers.
Solo singers are having a grand old time of it at the moment and there's no sign of that changing next year. The Brit Awards Critics' Choice prize has already been awarded to Sam Smith, who beat fellow nominees Ella Eyre and Chloe Howl to the award. He'll be hoping to do even better than last year's recipient Tom Odell, who released one of the best-selling albums of the year.
You might recognise Smith from his appearance on Disclosure's hit single Latch, while Eyre also made her debut as a guest vocalist, first with Rudimental on their No 1 single Waiting All Night, and then with Naughty Boy and Wiz Khalifa on Think About It.
Chloe Howl, meanwhile, went straight from school at 16 to a recording contract, and now, aged 18, is getting ready to release her wonky pop debut. If singles Paper Heart and No Strings are anything to go by, she's going to have a great year.
Other new acts to watch out for are Royal Blood - whose rootsy guitar noise nods to The White Stripes and Black Keys - and Raleigh Ritchie. He's already made a name for himself as an actor in Game Of Thrones, but his downtempo songs, Bloodsport in particular, should see him succeed in music too.
After a few years flitting around on the sidelines, 2014 could also be the year Foxes makes a much-deserved breakthrough. Like Ella Eyre, she - her real name is Louisa Rose Allen - featured on a Rudimental track and has enough songs of her own, Youth being about the best, to make it by herself.
Lolo, Charlotte OC and Laura Welsh too, all well worth your time. Finally, if sensitive acoustic singer-songwriter types are your thing, check out George Ezra, Luke Sital-Singh and Nick Mulvey, all three of whom we're likely to hear a lot more from in 2014.
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